Thursday, February 12, 2015

Time Offers Great Perspective

My dad, close to the same age
as Hopson is in the
picture below.
The day my dad passed away he was 44 years, 1 month & 15 days old.  It's amazing how time offers perspective.  A 20 year old sees their 40+ parents as a little aged.  Yeah, they have their moments when you can see them as they were 20 years ago, but they are still old.  Time has made that 44 years seem younger and younger.  I'm sure my kiddos think Hopson & I are older than dirt.  Hopson & I don't make a habit of acting like we did in our 20's in front of our children.  So, I guess in some ways were are old mature.  :)  I've been thinking about all the different aspects of this for the last few weeks.  I was so distracted by it one day that I may or may not have accidentally run a red light.  

February 15th Hopson will be 44 years, 1 month & 15 days old.  The exact age as my dad was May 7, 1992.  The day of his death.  Hop is the same age I was, Harry the same age as my sister Amy & Henry is the same age as Cotton.  I can't imagine losing Hopson at the age he is now.  There is so much life we have to live together.  There is so much we have to do.  We have children to raise and grandchildren (God willing) to spoil.  We have trips to take and life, precious life.

I can't image my mom's heartbreak.  She had known my dad since they were 5.  They dated throughout high school; were married when they were 20; and became parents at 24.  They had bumps along the way as all marriages do, but they stuck by each other for better or for worse.  I watched my mom care for my dad for 3 years as his health declined.  I watched her honor him in his last months, weeks and days.  I saw their love when I was home, and I saw her comforting people after he died.

Hopson close to the
same as my dad
pictured above.
So, to honor my parents and to honor Hopson on his 44th year, 1 month & 15th day I am choosing to live.  Live the life my parents didn't get to.  I will love a little bigger and laugh a little longer.  I will not take this day for granted.  I will live this day because I'm not promised tomorrow.  One of my desires is that my children can look back on their childhood and say they were raised in a home full of love and laughter; and that they were taught valuable lessons that will carry them through life.  I hope it is a family tradition they will pass on to their children.

I want to do all this "because the greatest of these is love".

Celebrating LIFE,
~ashley

  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Woman, Know Thyself

This is an older pic but it's one of my faves.
My favorite daughter, E.
Yesterday I posted Rules to Date my Son.  I'm sure some people didn't think it was very funny.  Was it meant to be satirical?  Yes.  Was it meant to be serious?  Yes.  Hopson said I was a little heavy on making my sons' girlfriends miserable.  (Note to self, 1x is plenty.  And, I'm not really going to be that mean, yeesh.)  I don't want or like to be mean.  It takes to much energy.  I like to be the happy me.  :)  See, I'm smiling...sorry, rabbit trail.

We are living in an age where there are many who want to feminize men.  We want them to express their feelings.  We want them to be more nurturing.  Well, if a guy is already that way, great.  But if he's not naturally that way, don't try to force him to change.  (Hence Rule #6)  I don't expect the young ladies who date my sons to be more manly.  It's just silly to expect the sexes to be the same.  We're different.  And different is good.  It's a great thing when two different people can work together to make marriage and family run smoothly.  I don't feel threatened in the slightest that Hopson is better than me at a lot of things, because I'm better than him in other things.

Lest you find me a hypocrite, know that the rules listed for dating my sons, are being taught to Elizabeth.  We want her to be those things listed to the man she marries.  We want her to bring honor to her new family.  We want them to love her because she is a kind, loving and a strong woman.  We want her to be confident with herself to know who she is and that she has a lot to offer, and not be afraid to express her opinions.  If you need a great example of what we want for our sons, and what we want Elizabeth to be, see Proverbs 31:10-31.  We want her in-laws to feel fortunate that their son found such a wonderful young lady.

I was talking to the best hairdresser in the world, who just happens to be mine, and who has been cutting my hair since I was 8.  She has always given me sound motherly advice about life, love and raising boys.  Her second son was just married a few weeks ago; her oldest son has been married for 1 year, and you should hear her gush about her new daughters.  She loves them.  Like, you're now part of my family, and you are my daughter now too.  You know why?  Because on the rules list, they pass all the things listed.  Her new daughters bring honor to her sons & their family.  That's what I want.  I want the love in my family to grow as we add new members.

Isn't that what all parents want for their children?  I understand that I will be entrusting the love and care of my son to another woman, and that I have to let go of being the #1 woman in his life.  And I'm ok with that as long as she is a woman who knows herself and knows how to love him as a man, faults and all.

Celebrating life & living out love,
~ashley




Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sister, You Got Rules Too


Hop & some of his Dance Marathon
friends in college.
 Everywhere on the web you can find rules to date my daughter.  And, I do mean everywhere.  When you start typing "rules to date" in Google, 4 of the 5 will be female related.  It's true, we do have to watch out for our daughters, but in all honesty, I'm also worried about my sons.

The one & only Harry...
Sometimes you don't see straight when the love goggles are on.  We've told all our children that if we say something about someone  you bring home to meet us, it's not that we don't like them.  We may see a level of crazy that you can't see through said goggles.  Hopson & I are pretty doggone good at finding crazy.  And no, in this case it's not "it takes one to know one".  We're weird, not crazy; they are two very different things.  But beware to all who come to my home, I'll find out if you're crazy...

Henry (on the right) & his friend Ethan.
I think the reason I think about my boys dating, is because there are some skanky (and crazy) girls out there who just want to land a husband.  Let me tell you girls something, we're raising MOG around here, and, rule #1, if you can't figure out what a MOG is, stay away from my boys.  My boys are special to me & I consider them gifts from God, so if you're a bad girl, keep you mitts off.




Here are some rules I've come up with if you want to date any of my 3 sons.

  1. We're raising MOG, if you don't know what that is, my boys are not for you.
  2. If you are high maintenance, a drama queen or diva, my boys are not for you.
  3. If you are materialistic, don't let the door hit you on your way out.  Nobody has time for that.
  4. Respect is something that is earned and is mutual, and is very easy to lose.  Earn yours.  
  5. I expect my son to treat you like a lady because he has been raised to be a gentleman.  So, make sure you act like a lady.
  6. My sons are not girly, so don't expect them to act that way.  They can carry your purse and even talk about feelings every once in a while, but some things need to be between you & your girlfriends.
  7. My sons are not your doormat.  If you even think about treating them as such, I can make your life miserable. :)
  8. I love social media & I know A LOT of people.  I will stalk you & ask everyone & their brother about you.  If I see/hear anything I don't like, bye bye.
  9. We want to get to know you, so don't be shy.  If you're acting sketchy, I'll assume you're hiding something & I will have to find out what you are hiding. (refer back to rule #8)
  10. Trust me when I say that I can be intentionally & extremely mean.  If you even think about hurting my boys, I will make your life miserable. :)
  11. My son was not put on this earth to be your sole means of entertainment.  (or ATM)  Make sure you have some sort of a life in case he decides you are not for him.
  12. Remember I loved him first, and you have to earn my trust before I will let you have him full time.  
There you go.  Those are the first 12 rules I could think of.  I'm sure y'all could add many more.  I could have added that I have a gun, but the B factor is just as effective, maybe even more.  :)   This list is meant to be somewhat funny & also serious.  I want my sons to have happy healthy marriages to wonderfully Godly women.  They deserve nothing less.

Celebrating life & loving my boys,
~ashley






Friday, January 16, 2015

The Legal Age


One looks the same & the
other looks very different...
21 years.  No bar crawl; no drinking games. (thank goodness)  Just a nice dinner and flowers for me.

Last week Hopson & I celebrated our 21st anniversary.  Wow, 21 years.  That's a long time.  I've been married almost 1/2 of my life.  It's gotten to the point that it's hard to imagine myself as ever being single.  He's like that really comfy pair of broken in slippers.  Nice analogy I know.  :)  But it's true.  A great pair of slippers are warm and soft, and they just make you happy when  you get to put them on.  Hopson will wear his out in public.  They look like camo shoes, so it's easier to get away with wearing them.

But, as any couple who has been married over 20 years will tell you, it's not all sunshine and roses.  Marriage is hard work.  It's two people who have been raised in different households coming together to blend traditions, philosophies and life styles.  It's also deciding to love someone when they are at their worst. You know in your vows you say "for better, for worse", but how many of us really think about the worse part?  Trust me, if you haven't experienced a worst yet, get ready because you will.

There are various degrees of worse.  There's the everyday kind & the BIG life changing kind.

Yeah, he's pretty hot in this picture!
(I know I just embarrassed my kids!)
For me, the everyday kind is:  picking up dirty clothes thrown on the floor; cooking and cleaning the same things over and over; scrubbing toothpaste spit from the sink.  That's the side of marriage no one tells you about.  We've also experienced the big stuff.  The kind of difficulties that really test your spouses mettle & show their true colors.  We had been married for 3 years, had 2 babies & moved into my mom's house so I could take care of her while she was terminally ill.  If you don't think that would scare away some 26 year olds you're out of your mind.  You know what mine did?  He supported me, and did whatever was necessary to help me and my siblings through that time.  Hopson earned his man card that year.

What I've figured out is that if you can like someone at their worst, then you will be ok.  And yes, I meant to put like and not love.  To me, love is not something to toy around with.  When I got married, I decided that day that I would love Hopson until one of us dies.  Love is a state I choose everyday to be in with him.  Now, I may or may not choose to like him any given day; I can be a little moody.  (vice versa is true as well)  9 times out of 10, I like him pretty well.  I've tried to train him to put up his stuff, but after 21 years I don't think it has gotten any better...and possibly worse. But, it's the little worse, so we're all good.

Happy 21st honey daddy.  May our next 21 years be filled with much love, abounding happiness and tons of grandchildren!

Celebrating life & 21 years of marriage,
~ashley


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Are You Drunk...

...or just on your phone?

Dear person driving in front of me this morning,
I just wanted to let you know that I thought you were either drunk, which, if that's the case, it's a little early to be hitting the sauce; or you were texting/emailing on your phone.  Yes, I'm talking to you in the light green Honda minivan with the 1B***** tag.  (I have the tag number, but won't post the entire thing.)  You may wonder what great methods I used to figure out what you were doing?  Well, I happened to have my hands at 10 & 2 on the steering wheel & was able to use my sense of sight.  Wow is all I can really say.  (I was extremely focused to get where I was going this morning!)  

1st, you kinda sorta ran a stop sign just past the high school.  With around 2K students trying to make their way to school, and half of those children being fairly new drivers, I would say you put your life in serious peril.  And when you went down the hill, you need to know that police sit there trying to catch speeders....  You obviously don't have a high school student or you would know that you want to stay off your phone at all costs around new drivers.  They don't understand how fallible and fragile human life is.  They are likely to go barreling down a road & woe be to you if you're not paying full attention around them.  (they are really bad in a parking lot)  Also, our city has instituted a new distracted driving law that is enforced within 1000 feet of a school.  You were for sure within the 1000 feet, so you got away this time.

2nd, while on a very busy 2 lane road, that a bunch of those teenage drivers use to get to school, you were weaving into the other lane a bunch going around 45 mph.  If a car had been coming while you were swerving, you for sure would have caused a wreck.  Oh wait, you almost did.  A car was stopped to make a left handed turn and you almost didn't see them.  Or maybe you just like to get right up on someone's bumper before you choose to stop.  I was actually mentally prepared for you to have a wreck with someone.  I had my course of action all planned out.  I had my phone in one of my cupholders & was going to grab it while I jumped out of the car to make sure everyone was ok.  Luckily, my assistance wasn't needed, but never fear, I was watching & was ready.  Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance...the 5 P's learn them, love them, live them.

Look, I'm not trying to throw stones.  I've had those emails that were really important for me to answer, but at least I do it when I'm stopped at a stop light.  You actually have a few options to make cell phone usage & driving safer:  use the voice command on your smartphone; if you are able, hand it to someone in the passenger seat to type for you; or wait until you are stopped at a light.  At the very least learn how to multitask so you don't look like a drunk driving around the city.  Some people should really say no.  Yeesh!

I might or might not have taken a picture of said driver with my cell phone.  Remember my hands were at 10 & 2.  But, to protect the maybe guilty innocent I have chosen to not publish it, if the picture actually exists.  ;)  Watch out on the roads today, there are some crazy people out there!

Celebrating Life & knowing how to walk & chew gum at the same time!
~ashley  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Almost Nothing is Sacred

I think I have OCD, and I think it has kicked in BIG TIME.  I like things orderly.  Everything has a place & should be put into that place.  Unfortunately, I have 4-5 (since Hop is in AU most of the time it's hard to count him as a full time home dweller.) who work against me all the time.  I have been nesting like no body's business, and nothing is too good not to go.  Well, almost nothing.  I always nested every time I was pregnant....  And before you start thinking anything, just banish those thoughts right now, because I'm not pregnant.  No more little babies for this momma.  Give me teenagers.

Any-who, so this craziness started right before Christmas.  My closet was a little cluttered, so I spent a few hours cleaning it out.  Oh, it looks so much better, and I felt better.  As we were getting ready to go skiing, I reorganized all our ski gear.  The children had outgrown a lot of the old gear, but I still had it mixed in with what fit.  We let others borrow our ski clothes, so I don't want to get rid of it, just not have it mixed in with everything else.

We then went on vacay, so no crazy cleaning for me, just the normal kind.  As soon as we arrived home last week, away I went.  Purge purge purge.  So far I've done:  my chest, my bedside table, my bathroom drawers and cabinets, 2 hall closets, 1 closet under the stairs, the four deep cabinets in our den, the laundry room and the pantry.  I have the other stairs closet left & it's going to be a doozie and another set of cabinets in my den.  The closet under the stairs has kind'of become a catch all, so there's a lot of reorganizing that needs to happen & for whatever reason, that always takes a lot longer then just throwing things away.

I don't know why I kept all the stuff I did.  I don't know if I thought I would need it one day, but after a few years I've decided that I just don't need to hold onto to it anymore.  All of a sudden I hear Elsa singing "Let it Go!".

I have an appreciation for professionals who declutter people's homes.  My stuff was bad enough, and it was mine.  How do you know what means something to someone?  I kept things that were precious:  the the first pair of shoes each one my kids wore & scribbled artwork and cards from the fam.  Nothing that's worth money, but worth the world to me.

My break is almost over.  I stopped for lunch & to do a little mind purge.  :)  But now it's back to the grindstone, because right now, almost nothing is sacred.

Celebrating life & a decluttered home!
~ashley

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Birthdays, Cold Weather & Ski Pants

The last two weeks have been CrAZy!  Oh wait, our weeks are always crazy.  :)  Because of what we did over Christmas vacation I have some definite opinions about a few things.  I know, hold your comments, I have opinions about pretty much everything.  Here goes...

This reminds me of a Christmas Carol.
We left Christmas day for Park City, Utah for the fam to take our vacation skiing.  We are usually spring skiers, but because Hop's spring break is different from the other three, Harry had the idea to go at Christmas.  We left the 25th so I didn't really decorate the house for Christmas.  I put out our favorite decorations, but I didn't put out everything, and it was all packed up before we left.  I didn't even wrap any presents.  I love Christmas, so this part was hard for me to swallow.


All my peeps skiing on the 26th.
We arrive in Utah to it snowing.  It was in the 20's, which is cold but manageable.  My first hiccup was getting my skis.  I have little feet with pretty big calves. (Thanks Dad.)  Because of this, I have to have special expandable boots.  They didn't have any boots in my size that would fit a large calf, but he did have one a half size larger.  I thought this would be ok, but I found out when I started skiing that I couldn't control my skis because my feet were sliding around in my boots.  I couldn't wear two pair of socks because then my calves wouldn't fit.  It was a conundrum, but I made it work.

The groomed blue, mogully
double blue & double black
Hop & Harry skied.
Looking ahead at the weather, it was going to be cold...not just a little cold, but very cold.  The high was in the single digits & teens with the lows below 0.  Have you ever been going 20+ miles an hour down a hill in sub 0 weather?  It will freeze your nose hairs & burn your face.  Oh it's cold. The whole time we were skiing I kept singing the line from Jimmy Buffet's Boat Drinks...."I want to go where it's warm".   I've decided I like spring skiing the best.  When the highs are in the high 30's maybe even low 40's with bluebird skies; it's nice. Things can get a little slushy in the afternoon, but for me it's an even trade.  I need the warmth of the sun.

Our first day of skiing was my birthday, the 26th.  Our fam skied together the entire day.  It was a great birthday present.  One run we did was a nice steep blue.  It was groomed & was like skiing on butter.  Hopson decided he wants to do a double blue off the same lift.  No problem, except that he wasn't sure if it had been groomed.  I was given an out, but decided to stick with the fam.  Hiccup #2.  It was a double blue with moguls.  Yeah, um, I don't do moguls, but I had no choice if I wanted to get down the mountain.  It took me kind of a long time, but I only fell three times.  I did rip my ski pants.  :(  I was able to sew them & it lasted the rest of the week.  :)

Honey Daddy on his 44th birthday.
The 30th was Hopson's birthday.  More skiing & it was freezing.  When we arrived at Solitude it was -8.  It burned to breath & when the wind would blow it would cut right through you.  We toughed it out even though we were frozen like popsicles.  That night Hopson said he has decided he's not having any more birthdays.  I say bring them on!  It's only a number.

Dinner, spades & football
My favorite time was at night.  I would cook dinner for the fam & they would first get into the hot tub & then they would play games.  Elizabeth & Henry learned to play spades.  It was great & there was so much laughter.  We watched the bowl games and cheered on the SEC.  Those nights were wonderful.

The 18  year old with his
toilet paper birthday cake.
We left New Year's Eve, which is also Harry's birthday.  It's a bummer, but can be fun traveling on your birthday.  Since it was Harry's 18th, and I am his mother, I wanted to make sure I empowered others to embarrass him as much as possible.  We caught our final leg home out of Las Vegas.  We had a GREAT flight crew.  I love Southwest Airlines.  The flight attendants at the end of the flight had the entire plane sing happy birthday to Harry & they made him a toilet paper cake.  It was really sweet!

It's nice to go away, but it's always nice to be home.  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas & I
am praying for a wonderful new year for you all!

Celebrating another year of life!
~ashley